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Wednesday, 15 August, 2001, 21:07 GMT 22:07 UK
Holland outclass England
England 0-2 Holland
England coach Sven Goran Eriksson's brave new world suffered its first setback at the hands of masterly Holland at White Hart Lane.
Louis Van Gaal's Dutch masters wrecked Eriksson's perfect record of five wins out of five with a performance of pedigree and passing of the highest calibre.
Eriksson conducted a complete revamp of his early line-ups to give members of the England undercard an opportunity ahead of the crucial World Cup qualifier in Germany on 1 September.
And it was a brutal lesson in the harsh reality of international football for inexperienced youngsters like debutant Owen Hargreaves as England were outclassed in the opening 45 minutes.
England held on unconvincingly until the Dutch struck twice inside a minute shortly before half-time, courtesy of a long-range thunderbolt from Mark van Bommel and a poacher's goal from Manchester United's £19m new boy Ruud van Nistelrooy.
It was, in some respects, a timely reminder of the steep learning curve England must still climb to move back into world football's elite group.
Holland, in contrast, confirmed that reports of their demise have been hugely exaggerated and they will pose a massive threat to the Republic of Ireland in their important qualifier next month.
Eriksson's England were given the severest test of the Swede's reign so far in a first half that had the Dutch trademark passing style stamped all over it.
England's experimental line-up had little time to settle as the were outflanked - literally at times by the brilliant wide pair of Boudewijn Zenden and Marc Overmars - and outmanouevred.
England finally got themselves into the game midway through the first half - but it was simply the cue for a period of Dutch devastation that brought two goals.
Eriksson's side showed signs of shaking Van Gaal's side out of their imperious stride when Andy Cole brought a desperate save from Edwin van der Sar with his feet after 33 minutes..
Fulham's new import from Juventus was in action again seconds later, brilliantly palming Gary Neville's drive over the bar as it looked bound for the top corner.
Holland had hinted at their superiority, and confirmed it with a lethal double strike inside a minute.
Van Bommel was first on target after 38 minutes, picking up a harmless looking pass and taking advantage of England's invitation to shoot by sending a rising 35-yard drive past a stunned Martyn.
It was a stunning counter-punch - and England were on the canvas when Van Nistelrooy doubled the Dutch advantage seconds later.
The striker's United team-mate Jaap Stam then headed narrowly off target, before Van Nistelrooy produced a piece of skill that even had the disappointed England fans applauding.
He delivered a brilliant chip which left Martyn stranded, but as he turned to celebrate the ball bounced to safety of the bar.
The game took on an unreal atmosphere after the break when a total of 13 substitutes - including eight England replacements - were sent on.
Chelsea's £7.5m new boy Zenden will have provided a worry for watching coach Claudio Ranieri by sitting on the sidelines with an ice pack on his ankle after a tackle from Jamie Carragher.
And two were involved within seconds when West Ham new boy David James made a brilliant one-handed stop from Chelsea's Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink.
The England duo were both substituted - with Arsenal's £6m signing Richard Wright and Middlesbrough's Ugo Ehiogu coming on.
It meant the second period was little more than a training exercise with both coaches trying out new faces and the game occasionally being reduced to walking pace.
England were able to limit the damage that Holland threatened to inflict on them in that blistering first half.
Michael Owen had England's best chance of the game in injury time - but Liverpool's in-form striker blazed wildly over the bar.
And while Eriksson will be disappointed to have tasted defeat for the first time, it is unlikely the coach will believe it will have a significant effect on his World Cup planning.
England: Martyn, Gary Neville, Keown, Brown, Ashley Cole, Beckham, Scholes, Carragher, Hargreaves, Andy Cole, Fowler. Subs: Powell, James, Mills, Southgate, Ehiogu, Carrick, Lampard, Barmby, Owen, Smith, Wright.
Holland: Van der Sar, Reiziger, Stam, Hofland, van Bronckhorst, Zenden, Van Bommel, Cocu, van Nistelrooy, Kluivert, Overmars. Subs: Kamphuis, Melchiot, Landzaat, Makaay, Waterreus, van Hooijdonk, Davids, Hasselbaink.
Referee: Anders Frisk (Sweden)
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